In a major development,the Punjab government has finalised a policy for grant of protection to RTI activists. A statement to this effect was made by a law officer appearing on behalf of the government today during the resumed hearing of a public interest litigation filed by Advocate H C Arora,State President of RTI Activists Federation,Punjab.
In his PIL,the petitioner had sought directions to Punjab,Haryana,Chandigarh Administration and the Central government to frame some policy for protection of RTI activists. During the resumed hearing today,the petitioner refuted the stand of Central governments counsel Onkar Singh Batalvi,who had stated that the proposed whistle blowers Bill,which is pending in Parliament,covers the RTI Activists. On the last date of hearing,the High Court had directed him to lay the details of the said Bill before it.
Rathi stated before the Bench that there are no incidents of attacks on RTI activists in Haryana. Advocate Arora,countered Rathis stand by referring to a recent incident of a woman having been run over with a tractor in Hisar District for seeking information under RTI Act from a Gram Panchayat.
In these circumstances,the Bench directed Rathi to seek instructions from the Haryana Government in this regard. Counsel for the UT Administration stated that the administration would abide by whatever decision the Centre takes in this matter.
Punjabs law officer apprised the division bench that Punjab government has finalised its policy for giving protection to RTI Activists. It only awaits signature of the Deputy Chief Minister.
The court has directed the state to produce the policy before it on the next date of hearing.